Gear Review: Nikon D810, What’s New Compared than D800 / D800E?

For readers who follow the camera news release yesterday, just yesterday (June 26 2014), Nikon released a new full frame camera, the Nikon D810 which is a renewal version of Nikon D800 and 800E as well. I will try to note some significant improvement and also personal opinion such as below:

nikon-d810-review

  • Latest generation processor, EXPEED 4: The new processor allows faster performance, camera will work faster.
  • Image sensor remains 36MP without a low-pass filter, a little different with D800E. I think this new sensor can reduce more moire, so that Nikon feels confident to release just one type D810, not like the past two versions, Nikon D800 / D800E.
  • Continuous shooting speed is increased from 4 fps to 5 fps (36 MP), 7 fps (while using DX (crop) mode, resolution 15 MP).
  • Electronic first curtain shutter (reducing vibration caused by the shutter when shooting with live view). Not a new technology, many Canon cameras or mirrorless have this feature, but this is the first Nikon camera that implements this design.
  • ISO can be expanded from 32-51200. With native 64-12800. ISO can be selected very low to limit the light while playing in slow speed techniques (for smooth flow of water or light motion recording). Nikon also confident enough to include a high ISO up to 12800-51200. Seems like shooting in the dark light conditions is not to be a problem anymore.
  • Weight: 880 grams = 20 grams lighter than Nikon D800. Just a little lighter than the D800? Quiet disappointing because nowadays many full frame camera has a light weight. Nikon D600 only 760 grams, Canon 6D only 680 grams, even Sony A7 is only 474 grams.
  • New option for image size: S-RAW, 11-bit, 9 MP. This small-sized RAW intended to respond Canon that provides several image size options with RAW format. RAW files provide more flexibility in processing images, but apparently not so widely used, because it has many options image size (L, M, S) in JPG, a more concise format. Photographers who want the best quality and detail is usually use RAW format only.
  • AF Group: Picking a bunch of points for tracking moving subjects. It is also a response to Canon DSLR cameras, especially 7D, 70D, and 1DX. Because with many Autofocus points (51-point), photographer need more time to shift the focus point. With AF group, AF point can move closer and to follow moving subject is also much easier and accurate. The autofocus module equivalent to Nikon’s top DSLR cameras, D4S.
  • Video gain some important improvement namely 50/60p that could be make a slow-motion. This technology is not really new, but it is quite interesting in recording an action video.
  • New shutter damper mechanism, more silent and stable.
  • LCD screen resolution increased to 1,229 million from 920 thousand points. Unfortunately, it’s not a touchscreen and can not be rotated.
  • Higher battery capacity due to more power efficient processor. 1200 photos per re-charge. Cool…!
  • Highlights priority metering = Measurement of light trying to save the bright areas (highlights) so that not to lose detail. Good metering functions and practical enough for landscape (keeping sky detail), and in contrast light condition such as an artist that highlighted by spotlight in a concert.

nikon-d810-review-3

From the above details, it appears that a lot of things were enhanced, but its incremental or something like minor changes. Some features are enhanced to match its rivals such as the ‘electronic first curtain’ system, 50/60p video, and S-RAW. The picture quality does not seem to be much different from Nikon D800E, nice and sharp.

Nikon D810 is arguably the most appropriate camera for who want to print large size and high quality, but for the traveler or casual, 12-24 MP is usually sufficient to meet the needs of most photography enthusiasts. Therefore I feel this camera is designed only for a fraction of photographers, especially since the price is quite high $3,300.

Some time ago, I have tried some Sony camera including the full frame Sony A7. The dimensions and weight of Sony A7 is only half from Nikon D810 which is 430 grams. Why Nikon does not make a similar thing? Maybe not as light as the Sony A7, 600 grams is nice.

At some websites, many people commented about its video recording ability, why an expensive camera like Nikon D810 can not record 4K video? Indeed, currently 4K video is becoming trend, even prosumer cameras like Panasonic FZ1000 can record 4K video, including Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7S. But I think 4K video is not too important unless for a truly professional videographer. Because the monitor that can display 4K video optimally is still rare. Probably 2-4 years later will be more developed.

In general, it’s a good thing if Nikon continues to renew their digital camera, but apparently not enough to its top level only. The last few years there is no outstanding innovations from Nikon while many significant developments that can be achieved by other systems such as Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic.

By Duwi Mertiana